I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Townsville during the wartime and I’ve found it absolutely fascinating. The 1940s seem so long ago (and no, I was not born then!) but we’ve been in Townsville since 1972 and have seen so many changes that I’m sure I can feel how it must have been here during the war.
I walk along the Strand, which is so beautiful and landscaped now, with wide walkways and bike paths and gardens and tree plantings, and I can imagine how it was in 1942 – a simple beach with a narrow bitumen road running beside it, the sand littered with barbed wire barricades, as were the streets of North Ward. There were up to sixty military vessels moored in the bay. Huge guns manned Kissing Point. Schools were closed, families evacuated south. Americans arrived in their thousands and outnumbered Australians three to one.
The people of Townsville waited in trenches dug in their back yards during three Japanese air raids. Actually, the air raids were a bit of a fizzer and by the third raid, most people stayed in their beds or went to some vantage spot to watch the dog fight with American Airocobras.
Now we are fighting in a completely different arena. John Howard is signing treaties with Japan and the US and my son is going to Japan to work for six months.
I will never understand war.
But I love this photo below of Townsvilleans celebrating outside the station at the end of the war in 1945. See the big VICTORY sign on the front of the building? It was decorated with red, white and blue lights, and recreated during VP50. Fab!